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6 Ways Companies Are Improving Employee Health and Productivity

Apr 22, 2022

The state of nutrition in the workplace

The pandemic affected our overall health in many ways. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using a survey of nearly 4,000 U.S. adults found that many Americans increased their consumption of unhealthy snacks, desserts, and sugary drinks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now companies are facing a major challenge: how to create a healthy workplace culture, supporting both employees' mental and physical health.

The unhealthy patterns adopted during the pandemic have bled over into the new norm. A review published at the end of 2021 found an increase in snacking frequency and a preference for sweets and ultra-processed food rather than fruits, vegetables, and fresh food. 

How nutrition factors into workplace performance and employee wellbeing

Consequently, adherence to healthy diets decreased. And it’s no surprise, with longer working hours and extensive to-do lists, employees are having a hard time prioritizing their nutrition which ultimately impacts their job performance. This burnout is also causing many employees to quit. This is where companies can step up and make a difference. 

Employees are expecting their employers to care about their wellbeing. One way of showing you care about your staff is through providing easy access to nutritious meals. Studies show that adequate levels of nourishment can raise national productivity levels by 20% on top of helping employees:

1. Decrease stress, aiding mental health 

2. Improve sleep quality, resulting in better focus at work

3. Boost immunity, reducing sick days 

4. Increase energy and productivity

How to implement a successful health and wellbeing strategy across your workforce

Better nutrition leads to both improved mental and physical wellbeing, offering a well-rounded approach to supporting employees. While only 16% of employers are actively focused on providing food access, an additional 21% are planning to direct their attention here in the future, making it the largest area of potential growth of any social determinants of health (SDOH). 

Companies in different industries have tackled the need for better health in a variety of ways:

  1. On-the-go healthy meals: Providing grab 'n go healthy meals for employees both during their busy workday and on their way home as an alternative to stopping at a fast-food chain.
  2. Maternity benefits: Providing meals to employees that are pregnant pre and post-delivery to support their nourishment during these exciting and stressful times.
  3. Subsidized meal program: To support hospitality workers, some hotel group managers have sent healthy pre-packaged meals to employees in an ongoing manner, finding this can help reduce labor shortages and act as a more affordable option to finding local food options across their various hotel locations.
  4. High-stress work perks: To support first-line workers, many hospitals have started subsidizing meals for healthcare workers as an added benefit, helping them eat more nourishing meals, while also supporting their family’s health.
  5. Nutrition education programs: everyone’s nutrition needs vary. Teaching employees to find out what works best for their bodies will help them make healthier food choices.
  6. Onsite healthier meal options: For some transportation companies, they found it was hard for truck drivers and warehouse/dock employees to find convenient, healthy food choices. Thus, they started offering meals onsite instead of having employees struggle to find healthy options elsewhere.

Nutrition-focused company culture goes a long way for employee wellbeing. By educating your workforce and providing easy access to healthy food, you are addressing their needs at the root and creating a pathway to a long-term sustainable work environment.

As put by Jenna Amos, Head of Nutrition at Freshly, “Meals can set individuals up for other positive eating behaviors. I'll quickly cite a quick study that showed that when individuals started their day with a healthful breakfast, they were more likely to choose better-for-you snacks and meals later in the day. So one healthy meal can really change your mindset and how you think about food for the rest of the day.”

If you’d like to hear more tips from thought leaders, check out our recent webinar on Supporting Employees Wellbeing and Resilience through Better Nutrition.

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6 Ways Companies Are Improving Employee Health and Productivity